Getting into a new sport can be difficult both physically and mentally. Cycling is no exception to this and while there are plenty of tips that you can get for new cyclists, not all of them are specific or even helpful to women. For example, many new women cyclists can struggle with confidence in group riding or with understanding the intricacies of a good bike fit. Here’s the top 10 tips for new female cyclists.
Nutrition is a daily part of life but it is especially important when you begin cycling. Pro cyclist Tiffany Cromwell recommends that you eat healthy but that you don’t obsess about it either like many women are prone to do. If you focus too much on being healthy you’ll start to lose some of the enjoyment you get from cycling in the first place. Women cyclists should stick to green vegetables, carbs, protein, and water. Eat meals regularly and also eat when you’re on the bike to avoid hitting empty on your fuel supply.
Many female cyclists will prefer a tighter fitting jersey and shorts that come to roughly the mid-thigh. A tighter jersey will prevent having loose fabric flapping in the wind as you ride and causing air drag. You’ll be more aerodynamic with a tighter jersey and therefore faster. A pair shorts that comes about mid-thigh are ideal. They give you the movement you need without forcing you to pull them down every five minutes should they ride up while you pedal.
You have a big chain ring, a small chain ring, and usually ten to eleven gears in the back. Don’t be afraid to cycle through all of the gears and work up a sweat when you ride. Using the big chain ring will require you to put out a lot more power and is a great way to burn off a lot of calories in not a lot of time. You won’t have an easy ride but you will have a great workout.
The saddle is very important because it’s where you’ll get the most comfort. It’s also a very personal choice. Some people prefer softer saddles while others prefer a harder saddle. Many women will prefer a men’s saddle, usually with a cut out because of the perceived flexibility and ability to handle bumps in the road more effectively. Before you go to buy a new saddle see if there’s some cycling friends who will let you try theirs so that you can get an idea of what’s comfortable for you or try them at the local bike shop before you buy.
Female riders have a bit of a reputation for taking a bike as-is and often end up with bars that are too wide for them. A good bar width will be the width of your shoulders. Having bars that fit you will improve both your comfort and handling ability.
6. Bike Fit
The bike fit is equally as personal as the saddle because good bikes are molded to the rider, not the other way around. This is when you need to find a very good bike shop who knows how to help with bike fits. They’ll measure your limbs and body to give you a correct frame. Without a good bike fit you could have too long of a reach, too high or low seat post, or any other number of problems which make good form impossible.
7. Ride with the Guys
Riding with men will help you to improve your fitness levels much more effectively than if you ride alone. Men are great race partners and having a group of people (both men and women) you trust will make you feel safer when you ride. Furthermore, being able to keep up or beat the men at a friendly race will boost your confidence in your riding skills and abilities.
If you aren’t very confident in road cycling, start with a quieter area first and work your up to paths that may take you through heavier traffic zones. Remember that drivers will give you space. They don’t want to hit you anymore than you want to be hit. When you cycle on the road you don’t want to be scared. This will make you hyper aware of your surroundings but will also prevent you from actually training because you may stop frequently, slow down, or simply cut out early. Give yourself time to get used to the idea of road cycling and build your confidence up.
Be relaxed on your bike. When you come down a hill for the first time, the last thing you want to do is to lock your elbows and tense up because you’re scared or uncertain. You want to maintain proper cycling form but you also want to be able to flow with the movements of your bike. Just take a deep breath and stop worrying. You’ll be fine.
10. Looking Good
Looking good is part of the battle especially when it comes to how other riders perceive you. If you’re having a bad day but your bike looks good and all of your cycling gear is properly maintained people (including yourself) will think it’s just a bad day and tomorrow will be better. You don’t have to look the part, but it sure helps!
These 10 tips for new female cyclists will keep you from making some of the common mistakes that many new cyclists make. You should be able to avoid much of the growing pains that come with cycling for beginners and ease your transition into the sport.